Sober living homes were once called halfway houses. Although the term had a specific definition at one time, the word became slang for homes full of people still struggling with addiction, often relapsing after leaving rehabilitation. Sober living homes are a slightly different concept that grew out of halfway houses; they have, so far, been much more effective at helping people who are new to recovery.
No one should enter sober living while they are going through a rehabilitation program; although most sober living homes require ongoing support group participation or therapy for their residents, they are not the same as rehabilitation programs. Most people who enter a sober living home were in an inpatient rehabilitation program, and this is the first place they reside following rehab. They may understand their addiction and the need to remain sober, but they want to maintain additional support after graduating from a rehabilitation program.
Sober living homes have specific house rules, which include:
- Residents pay rent.
- They attend regular support groups and/or therapy.
- They do not bring any intoxicating substances into the home, though some may allow prescription medicines.
- There are house meetings to ensure residents feel safe, respected, and part of the group.
- The home is overseen by people who have gone through the recovery process themselves.
The benefits of sober living homes are vast. They give people in need the room to create a new daily routine outside of a living situation that may otherwise trigger them to relapse to drugs or alcohol. Residents have support from others living in the house to stay away from intoxicating substances. Taking care of mental and physical health is a requirement specified on the lease. In addition, sober living homes require that residents take on social responsibilities, like maintaining a job, going to school, or participating in volunteer work.
How Much Does Rent at a Sober Living Home Cost?
The cost of a sober living home varies a lot. States that regulate these facilities require a maximum number of residents, often fewer than 10. These facilities are houses located in quiet neighborhoods, although they may sometimes be in apartment buildings. Cost largely depends on the mortgage for the home and the average rent in the area. Renting a room in a sober living home is similar to renting an apartment, but with more community involvement.
This means that some sober living homes have low rents, like $450 a month, while some sober living homes in popular areas have notoriously high rents. A sober living home in West Los Angeles – a very affluent neighborhood – was found to have rent listed at $10,000 per month. However, the people who are attracted to this form of living expect a lot of space, and amenities including pools, personal chefs, massage therapists, and more.
The real estate website Zillow offers advice on mortgages for a sober living home and covering costs with rent. Average rent for a four-bedroom sober living home, for example, should be $900 per room per month, which may legally be broken down into two people per bedroom (dorm-style) for $450 per month per person. This example is a home in Laguna Hills, California, a popular Southern California suburb.
State, county, and city governments are increasingly regulating sober living homes, so they meet specific standards. In the past, these facilities have had problems with exploitation. For example, poorly maintained and monitored homes charged $1,800 per person in 2002, which, even in Southern California, was far too much money and out of keeping with average rents in the area.
California, however, is leading the way in regulating these facilities, so they do not discriminate, are not discriminated against, and maintain good health and safety standards for residents. This, in part, includes maintaining rent on par with area costs. Renting in a large city like Los Angeles will be more expensive than in smaller cities, but this is normal. When searching for a sober living home, look for places with rent costs that seem reasonable. It may be beneficial to ask a friend or family member to tour the facility and make sure it is worth the rent.
How Do People Pay for Sober Living?
The average sober living home is not likely to have many amenities, and the person renting a room there must provide their own groceries, medications, and income. If the person is using money from friends or family, they may be encouraged, through the rules of the sober living home, to find part-time employment to offset costs, go to classes, or find other ways to better themselves. These are important steps because routine and personal growth will help the person take their mind off substance abuse, which in turn helps to prevent relapse.
Most people who live in sober living homes have at least a part-time job; they may be pursuing educational opportunities; and they should be finding and establishing new sober hobbies. There may be some sober living homes that receive state funding or take some insurance coverage, but this is extremely rare. Although insurance coverage is important for therapy and medical treatment, sober living homes are priced in such a way that a person in recovery can afford to live there.